The Sunray Venus Clam
The Sunray Venus Clam, Macrocallista nimbosa (Lightfoot, 1786), is one of the most attractive members of a very diverse family of bivalve mollusks, the Veneridae. Sunray Venus Clams have shells that vary in color from salmon-pink to brown to grayish-blue. The “Sunray” pattern on the valves is always asymmetrical, i.e, one valve is not a mirror image of the other. A prized shellfish item, the species is being farmed in captivity in parts of Southwest Florida, including Pine Island in Lee County. It is not uncommon for shellers to find paired valves of the species along the back bays of Lee County, in areas where the bottom is a nice mix of sand and mud. During a recent, clear-water paddleboard excursion at high tide along the beautiful stretch between Bunche Beach and the Sanibel Causeway, I found a treasure trove of paired Sunray Venus Clams shells.
Photos show Sunray Venus Clams including a group of shells found by the author near Bunche Beach in Fort Myers. Photos by José H. Leal.